Episode One-Derland: SA – Special A

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Plot: Hikari excelled in wrestling as a child until her father introduced her to another trained wrestler child named Kei Takashima, who wiped the floor with her. Ever since then, Hikari has has been determined to beat Kei at something, anything, yet always comes in second place, earning her the unwanted nickname from Kei as ‘Miss Second Place’. Still, she has become a terrific and well-rounded student, second in her class only to, well, you can guess. Because of this, she’s allowed into the very exclusive special class called Special A which consists of the best and brightest of the school.

Breakdown: Well, that was quite the fun first episode.

The premise is laid out for us very well. In fact, it’s so well done that this episode could stand as a one-shot and work just as well.

Our main characters are introduced and explored very well. Hikari is a bit obsessed with beating Kei, but they play out this quirk without making her come off as annoying. In fact, she’s very honorable in her quest to beat Kei. She’s not interested at all in cheating to beat Kei and works her ass off to come out on top in many subjects. In addition, while she may be very competitive with Kei, she’s really not vindictive of him. She respects how good he is at various subjects and treats him like a friend. Though that’s not to say there’s not playful and friendly smack talk.

Kei really is just perfect. He’s handsome, incredibly athletic, first in the class, and comes out on top of literally everything. His only flaw, supposedly, is Hikari mentioning that he’s pale as a child, but it’s not noticeable at all and not really a character flaw. I’m slightly worried that mentioning he’s pale could indicate illness or something in the future, though. Hm.

The other students in the SA class, of which there are seven are, in order of class rank, Jun, who is a violin genius and third in the class. His younger sister Megumi, fourth in the class, who is an incredibly talented vocalist with such a powerful voice that she can cause illness from being too close to her while singing. She’s usually mute to preserve her voice and speaks using a notepad.

Tadashi who is a wanderer and fifth in the class. He seems to be the joker of the group.

Akira is Hikari’s best friend, sixth in the class, and seems to hold a bit of a crush on Hikari.

Finally, there’s Ryuu, seventh in the class, who is briefly seen caring for a sloth.

As you can tell, the entire group has yet to be really fleshed out outside of their bare foundations, but there’s plenty of room for growth.

The SA class itself is a bit weird. We see them go throughout an entire school day and only see the SA students in class once for PE. They seem to spend a lot of their time in the really fancy building doing whatever they want and drinking tea with nary a teacher in sight. The SA students are treated like gods amongst the regular students, yet none of them really seem conceited. This is even more impressive considering that most if not all of the SA students are rich, to really no one’s surprise.

Kei’s really the only one who seems conceited sometimes and that’s really only when he’s trying to push Hikari’s buttons or when someone else is pushing his.

The rivalry between the two is pretty entertaining and can get a little outlandish sometimes. I don’t think they’ve gone quite far enough yet with it to be really hilarious, and I can see Kei always coming out on top becoming monotonous or predictable, but I have hope that they’ll do more interesting things with it in the future.

They’re obviously setting up these two as a romantic couple in the future, and I’m actually really okay with that. They have really good chemistry and already know each other very well.

The comedy aspects are done well with some great visual gags and very good timing. The ending before the other classmates show up made me laugh out loud for a good minute.

The dramatic aspects were a bit over the top, but also a bit of indulgence and sweet justice.

I do find it a bit weird that I can’t really find a reason for this show to need to take place in such an atmosphere. Why rich people? Why a super exclusive class? Why couldn’t this have taken place in a regular school with regular people with regular classes? The setting just doesn’t seem to have a point so far.

The art and animation are fantastic. While there’s nothing really special about the character designs, everything is very well-detailed and looks gorgeous. The colors are great, the lighting is great, the angles are great. It’s a very visually appealing anime courtesy of Gonzo.

The music is nothing to write home about, but nothing bad. I can see it growing on me.

Overall, I give this show an enthusiastic

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Recommended Audience: Nothing offensive so far; E for Everyone!

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